This holiday season, with Impeachment looming like the elephant in the room, most of us have been trying to steer clear of politics for the sake of peaceful extended-family feasting. At the farm, we’re too busy keeping our livestock fed to risk a partisan quarrel by hosting or visiting relatives. My livestock might have terrible table manners, but their only politics is Food.
It would be a sad New Year’s Day if Tazzy-the-Pig didn’t get an apple or maybe a mango. Lenny-the-Gander would squawk if we neglected to give him fresh, not frozen, water. And the cows have come to expect hay every day in the winter; no exceptions.
The politics of feeding start with where the cattle eat. We separate them by age and weight because bigger cows can be bullies and chase the smaller animals away from the food. This winter, they are divided into three pastures; a weanling group, a pregnant cow group, and the bull/steer/oxen group. Separated this way, all get a fair chance to eat as much as they want.
While the cattle enjoy hay, some also expect special rations. Every day the weanlings get two barrels of vegetables (one in the morning and one at night) collected from Shaw’s in Gilford or Grappone Conference Center in Concord. They feast on out-of-date apples, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, tomatoes, broccoli, celery, and lettuce that would otherwise go in the trash. Cattle could choke on the big pits of avocados and mangos, so we remove those items.
The pigs get special treats as well. Tazzy and Penny, our mini-pigs, get the mangos because the pits are too big for them to swallow. Charlotte and Sparkle, our 800-pound sows, love left-over scrambled eggs and fried potatoes from Grappone. Sometimes they get to feast on peppermint cream frosted brownies or cherry crisp from Crust and Crumb in Concord. The bulls run over to the fence when I throw them slightly stale French bread. Lenny and the chickens get sprouts, peppers, and pumpkins.
Not only do these treats delight my animals, but also serving them to livestock keeps waste out of the dump and reduces my feed bills. I’m grateful to those businesses, and so are my beasts.
By the way, as the primary election approaches and politics dominate New Hampshire, you may need an oasis of calm. Drop by Miles Smith Farm. My animals will not try to change your mind, I promise.